Visiting Page And Lake Powell In Arizona
Our crazy travel schedule through Utah meant we did not look ahead and book key reservations for things to do in Page and Lake Powell. And then we lost a full day to explore the area when we travelled to Phoenix to exchange our rental car.
We saw the Glen Canyon Dam from multiple perspectives. The Glen Canyon National Park was a great spot to get up close to Lake Powell. And on a day on the water, we explored the Navajo Canyon. We were excited to see Horseshoe Bend. But definitely very disappointed to not be able to book a tour to see Antelope Canyon. But it just means we need to come back to this region of Arizona.
Heading To Page, Arizona
When we drove to our hotel for our visit to Zion National Park, we ignored the GPS directions and had a very slow drive. When we picked our route to go from Virgin, Utah to Page and Lake Powell we again ignored the GPS routing.
We picked the more exciting rout that took us along Hwy 89A and up through the trees and into the mountains. We drove steadily up to about 8000’ altitude. At the Le Fevre Outlook, we got a view out over the Grand Staircase.
This route along 89A was the same route we followed when we visited the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and then headed to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We passed the Navajo Bridge and got our first glimpse of the Colorado River.
We saw so much red rock on our tour of the Utah National Parks that we thought we were immune to the variations in rock colour and texture. But as we drove past the Vermillion Cliffs, we found new shades of pink and cream, dotted with green trees in the mountains around Page. We were sorry we never stopped to explore them more.
The Final Approach To Page
We left 89A and joined 89 to get into Page. Several viewpoints along this road gave us broad views of the valley and mountains in the distance. The gorge route that the Colorado River carved was visible.
The road went up the side of the mountain. Steep grade signs were posted. And then the road passed through the sharp-sided Antelope Pass. We clearly understood why there were so may “Watch For Rocks” signs. It was not “if” but “when”.
The drive was one of the fun parts of our stay in Page and Lake Powell in Arizona.
Checking Out The Glen Canyon Dam
We found several spots around Page to check out the Glen Canyon Dam. The first view we got right from the parking lot of our Courtyard Marriott hotel.
The scenic viewpoint off of Hwy 89 offered us our next glimpse of this massive dam. It was finished in 1964 creating the 186 mile long Lake Powell on the Colorado River. We could just see the dam from the parking level.
But a rough stone path led down to a viewpoint at a lower level. As we wandered around the site, we got our first but not last view of the fascinating rocks in the Page area. Flat, layered rock looked almost like slate. Wavy rock looked like flowing lava.
At the lower viewpoint there was an amazing view out to the Glen Canyon Dam. And down at the Colorado River far below. We saw boat tours heading to the dam. Or further down to Horseshoe Bend.
When we drove across the top of the dam, we stopped to get a closer look down the face of the 710 feet (220m) high dam. The Carl Hayden Visitor Center provided information about the dam and tours were available. It reminded us of the massive Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River we visited on our trip to China.
When we headed into Glen Canyon National Park, we got a great view of the dam over the waters of Lake Powell.
A visit to the Glen Canyon Dam was definitely one of the things to do on a stay in Page and Lake Powell.
Getting To Horseshoe Bend
The Horseshoe Bend was high on our list of things to do in Page and Lake Powell. A little research confirmed that there were a few ways to visit. We could drive to the site just outside of Page and pay $10 for parking. Even though Horseshoe Bend was part of the Glen Canyon National Park area, it was not covered by our National Park pass.
There were shuttles in town to take you out. Or many of the tour companies stopped at Horseshoe Bend. You could also rent a boat or take a boat tour down at water level. We saw many of the boats during our visit.
But we decided to drive and park. When we arrived, we were reminded to take water and that the walk was about 20 minutes each way. That in no way prepared us for what was a bit of a hike to get to Horseshoe Bend.
Hike Out To See Horseshoe Bend
The initial climb brought us to a gentle walk down to an upper viewpoint. We were sure that many people never made it past here.
From here there was a switchback path that led down to the side of the canyon. A new path was under construction to make the path wheelchair friendly. The walk down was ok although I was often not sure whether the loose sand or shiny stone was better to walk on.
The walk down was definitely worth it. Our first view of the bend in the Colorado River was stunning. We moved from viewpoint to viewpoint and checked out the light and the shadows. People vied to get closer and closer to the edge for selfies. It was not surprising to learn that there were several deaths a year at this spot.
When we looked far down the rock face, we got a look at the Colorado River as it snaked around the horseshoe. There were boats on the water taking in the view from another perspective.
The rocks around the site were the same fascinating ones we first saw when we visited the Glen Canyon Dam. Overlapping smooth plates rippled around the site. There was one large rock formation that provided a little shade when we needed a break from the sun.
The walk back up was a bit tougher than I expected as the sun beat down on my head. There were a few spots to stop and one shaded place to rest. But I made it to the top. However, it took much longer to walk up than down.
We were so glad we made the effort to see the Horseshoe Bend. Certainly one of the things to do on a stay in Page and Lake Powell that we would highly recommend. But be prepared for the walk.
Drive Around Lake Powell
The 186 mile long Lake Powell called to us. We started with a panoramic view over the lake from the Wahweap Overlook. Below us we saw the lake, the marina and the dam.
When we entered Glen Canyon National Park, we headed for the marina to get a view of the lake from the water. Leaving the park, we drove along Lakeshore Drive and stopped at several spots for views out over the lake and the dam.
We saw only a small part of Glen Canyon National Park. But the park was a great place for views of Lake Powell. Plan this as one of the things to do on a visit to Page and Lake Powell.
Get On The Water To Navajo Canyon
The views of Lake Powell left us wanting to get out on the water. On our way out of Page, we stopped at the Antelope Point Marina. No water tours met our schedule. But we were delighted to rent a speed boat for a few hours.
We took the speed boat into Navajo Canyon. The Sandstone rock formations towered 600’ above our heads. In places, the sandstone seemed to be carved with pictures. We did not make it to the end of the Navajo Canyon waterway and into the actual slot canyon. But we did get to nose our way into a narrow crevice.
Getting out on the water was one of the fun things to do when we stayed in Page and Lake Powell. A few hours just gave us a small taste test. We will definitely return and spend more time exploring the waterways around Lake Powell.
Not Every Day Is A Great Travel Day
When we picked up our rental car, we got an upgrade. We rented intermediate SUVs on our road trips in 2019 because we are looking to replace our car with an SUV. But the upgrade got us a much bigger GMC Terrain SUV. After a few days, we went back and exchanged this for the smaller Subaru Outback.
The Outback was great. It was tough enough to take us on the dirt roads through the Utah National Parks. Even if we took an off-road jeep tour when we really wanted a much wilder ride. When we passed a truck on the highway, we picked up a small stone chip. That did not worry us. But then the chip quickly turned into a 3 foot long crack in the windshield.
We spent awhile on the phone with American Express about insurance. When we paid for our rental on our credit card it included car rental insurance. And then spent more time with Hertz talking about options to get the SUV exchanged.
There was no full service Hertz location until the Phoenix Airport. The options for towing the car from Page to Phoenix and / or sending a replacement car to Page were really expensive. If the insurance refused to pay these costs since the SUV was drivable, it would be a huge cost to us (over $3000 USD).
So we decided to take a day off and did the 11 hour round-trip drive to the Phoenix airport to exchange the SUV. The gas cost was minimal compared to the “exchange service” we were offered. And we lost a full day. Unfortunately this meant we missed some of the things to do on a visit to Page and Lake Powell.
It was good to remember that not every travel day will be a good travel day. And that insurance was vital. Things will happen when you do the kind of travelling we did on our fall trip to Utah and Arizona.
But we did finish our day with an amazing sunset after we relaxed at our hotel. So the day was not totally a waste!
We Enjoyed The Things To Do In Page And Lake Powell In Arizona
We definitely enjoyed the things to do in Page and Lake Powell on this first stop of our visit to Arizona. Horseshoe Bend was a sight we could not miss. Lake Powell drew us in to the water and the dam. A boat ride to Navajo Canyon on Lake Powell was the perfect way to end our visit.
A full day lost to car problems meant we did not get as much time on our stay in the Page and Lake Powell area as we wanted. We wished we had stopped at the Vermillion Cliffs. We later learned that these are not just more red cliffs. But were in fact interesting wavy cliffs with variegated colouring.
A trip up Lake Powell to see the Rainbow Bridge would have been a stunning addition to the rock arches we saw in Arches National Park. The closest we got was when we saw it depicted in a piece of street art.
There were a limited number of tour operators allowed to visit Antelope Canyon. We did not book early enough to get a tour while we were there. All of this just means there are great things to do in Page and Lake Powell that will bring us back to Arizona!
Did you find fun things to do on a stay in Page and Lake Powell In Arizona? What should we see on a return visit?
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